The Ritualistic Void Found in Postal and Federal Employees Who Continue Working in Jobs That Further Deteriorate Their Health

It is precisely the repetitive identity which provides for comfort.  Thinking is an endeavor which requires effort; ritualistic actions require merely attendance and presence, and the mechanical motions of responding.  When the mind becomes bifurcated from the task at hand, whether from being “lost in thought”, ruminating upon problems afar, or disengaged because one is contending with physical pain or psychiatric anxieties and lethargy, ritualism becomes a zone of comfort because the physical body can engage while the mental processes can embrace a parallel universe.

This ritualistic void is often what becomes of work when a Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition, such that this health condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  How long one can continue in such dualism of actions is often dependent upon the type of Federal or Postal job which one holds.  Being a Letter Carrier or a Mail Processing Clerk while in progressively agonizing pain will often compel a stoppage of work, precisely because the pain directly and intractably interferes both in the physical actions of ritualistic behavior, as well as in the dissociative mind to deal with the pain.  Office and computer work can sometimes delay the inevitable.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits for the Federal or Postal employee, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is a decision to be made resulting from the cessation of the ritualistic void which occurs.  Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal Employees, and is filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. When the tripartite coalescence of work, health and capacity begins to crumble and disintegrate, it may be time to reassess the ritualistic void presented by a job which no longer offers significance and meaning, but further contributes to the daily deterioration of one’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Body Breaking

The age-old paradigm of assuming that one’s career will take a singular path from birth to death is based upon a pre-industrial viewpoint fostered and solidified in the post-industrial age.  It is folly, however, to think that the human body can survive and withstand the repetitive stresses, both physical and cognitive, of the daily impact inflicted by the modern workplace.

Whether in physically-demanding jobs in the Postal Service; unrestricted stresses in Supervisory roles; of administrative functions in Postal and non-Postal Federal jobs requiring multi-tasking at levels unheard of; or of sustained, unsustainable endurance of data gathering, evaluation and analysis in front of a computer screen; there has been little-to-no time for evolutionary progress of the human body or psyche to adapt to the level of physical, mental and emotional demands and requirements coming from the modern workplace.

That is why Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit in the Federal Sector which is one of the few well thought-out compensatory packages:  a recognition that a particular kind of job may well no longer be able to be performed because of a specific medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing on in that career; paying a certain annuity amount; then, encouraging the (now former) Federal or Postal employee to remain productive by paying “back into the system” by becoming employed in some other capacity in the private sector.  Such a paradigm is a progressive one, and it recognizes the need for flexibility while understanding the reality of the human condition within the context of the workplace.

Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is a benefit which is available for Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, and should be considered seriously by the modern workforce as a recognition that prior paradigms of single careers and vocations never took into consideration the complexity of the human body or psyche, nor the flashpoint of the body breaking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Repetitive Stress Injury & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Stories abound, of course, concerning the worker who claims to suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or from similar medical conditions which are often generically placed under the rubric of “repetitive stress injuries” — chronic conditions of pain, numbness, tingling, and radiating pain and numbness often emanating from extremities and impacting one’s ability to engage in fine dexterous movement and manipulations — often limiting movement and abilities upon computer work, file handling, but also into areas which require mechanical repair, electronic technician work, Airways Systems work, work which requires the fine manipulative use of fingers, hands, etc. 

They are real injuries and medical conditions, and should not be dismissed lightly.  Use and overuse over time, or sometimes resulting from a specific traumatic injury, can result in the devastating impact which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  For Federal and Postal employees either under FERS or CSRS, Carpal Tunnel Symdrome (CTS) and Repetitive Stress Injuries are a viable basis to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  When CTS surgery (“release”), hand splints, and physical therapy have failed to alleviate the chronic nature of the medical condition, it may be time to consider filing with the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: Psychiatric v. Physical Disabilities

People continually inquire as to the difference between Psychiatric v. Physical disabilities, as to whether one is more amenable to an approval over the other.  Psychiatric conditions can include a wide range of variables — from Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, Agoraphobia, ADD/ADHD, and multiple other diagnoses.  Physical medical conditions, also, include a wide spectrum of disorders — Cervical, Thoracic or Lumbar conditions; various cardiac conditions; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; Fibromyalgia; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Shoulder Impingement Syndrome; Plantar Fasciitis; Migraine headaches; Lupus; Chemical Sensitivity issues; allergies; COPD; and multiple other conditions.  Is there a difference between these (and the listed conditions are by no means meant to be exhaustive, but merely illustrative of the wide range of medical conditions)?  The answer is, ultimately, No. 

The foundational essence of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether involving Psychiatric disabilities or Physical disabilities, is the impact upon one’s ability to continue to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.  Further, recent case law holds that OPM cannot make a distinction between “objective” medical evidence as opposed to “subjective” medical evidence, and so the old distinction between “psychological” medical conditions as distinguished from “physical” medical conditions can no longer be seriously upheld.  Ultimately, and fortunately, there is no difference between psychiatric disabilities and physical disabilities when trying to get approved for a Federal Disability Retirement case under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Time to Make the Decision (Part 2)

The medical condition known as “Fibromyalgia” is analogous to the manner in which Federal and Postal employees approach the decision-making process in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS.  Let me explain:  Fibromyalgia, as the Office of Personnel Management often likes to characterize, often manifests itself with chronic and diffuse pain which “waxes and wanes” — meaning, in simple terms, that there are good days and bad days; days when the pain is unbearable, excruciating and debilitating; and days when one can “manage” the extent of the pain and mental dysfunction and confusion. With that context, the Office of Personnel Management often tries to argue that it is not “so bad” as to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS. 

By analogy, people with all sorts of medical conditions — from physically debilitating neck and back pain; from Orthopaedic injuries, arthritis, chronic pain, visual impairment, etc.; to psychiatric disabilities of Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD — some days, one can seem to manage the disability; on other days, one cannot get through the day, let alone perform the essential elements of one’s job.  But deep down, one knows that one cannot continue forever on the same course.  To continue is to slowly wither away by a thousand cuts, one cut at a time, one cut per day.  And so, just as the Office of Personnel Management is plainly wrong (for Fibromyalgia is a chronic and debilitating medical condition which clearly qualifies for disability retirement), so the person who procrastinates in making the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS is simply waiting for the inevitable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire